This may come off as jingoistic, but I don't mean it that way.
I'm currently reading Wasting Police Time by PC Copperfield. He was, until recently a street cop in Britain (His blog is linked on the right). Recently he has outed himself and taken a job in Canada.
His book really makes me glad I live where I do. Not that I think the police are any better here, mind. DeKalb County has some of the laziest cops I've ever seen. In the eleven years that I've lived in this house, I think I've seen a patrolling cop car three times.
But, our laws are a lot different. On some levels criminals have it easier here. They can not be detained indefinitely, for example, without being charged. But we have a lot less bureaucracy and our government is a lot more local. Local government presents its own set of problems, but one happy effect of localization is that when the citizenry gets irate, changes get made quickly.
Also, we have more prisons. Which means that criminals get locked up for longer. Oddly enough there is a direct correlation between how many criminals are out on the street and how much crime there is. We cottoned on to that some fifteen years ago or so. The Europeans haven't yet. It takes a lot of digging, but if you can find some real crime statistics, then you'll get your eyes opened about just how much crime there is in the EU.
A digression. I'm not saying that French crime statistics are cooked. I'm saying that they have taken every Ronco kitchen appliance there is to their crime statistics. The French stats have been julienned, chopped, rolled, diced, sliced and beaten until they bear no resemblance to reality. Whole suburbs (banlieue) of Paris are "no-go" zones for police. No police, no crime seems to be the operative theory.
Back to the main point. Besides have a revolving door judicial system, the Europeans have an unreformed welfare system. I know that conservatives are supposed to hate Pres. Clinton, but I'm going to have to ask my conservative readers not to spit at the next sentence. This nation owes him a debt for welfare reform. In my opinion, that was probably the best thing he did as President. We have seen a near elimination of the permanent lower class, and that new social mobility has benefited everyone. Every European country has a permanent welfare (dole) class. They are useless. And they know it. And if you don't think that knowledge doesn't cause problems for society as a whole, I have a bridge for sale.
We do have our problems. There are still projects. There are still poor people. And shocking numbers of mentally ill, addicts and other cast-offs (Our society's treatment of severely mentally ill people is especially reprehensible). Unfortunately, the problems that remain are insoluble when seen from a distance. Which means that dealing with the dysfunctional members of society can only be done on a personal level, which gets expensive.
But, in comparison to the state of Britain, we're doing well. And with the dollar the way it is, it is just possible that more Britons will visit here and see for themselves.